CBA Record July-August 2019
other and the states in federal court. This decision was overturned by Congress with the 11th Amendment. The second decision established the policy that remains intact today--that the Supreme Court would only hear cases of actual controversy and not issue advisory opinions. Jay served until 1795. He resigned to become governor of New York. Cotter refers to Jay’s tenure on the court as not a rich one as it was devoted primarily to administrative tasks in setting up the court. Let’s fast forward to 1953, when Earl Warren was selected by President Eisenhower. His first case was Brown v. Board of Education. Some who think the Warren court was soft on crime might be surprised to learn that Chief Justice Warren’s father was murdered and the crime was never solved. Warren’s court was active in creating and enforcing defendants’ rights. Warren retired in 1969 and President Nixon’s nominee, Warren E. Burger, followed. William Rehnquist succeeded Warren Burger after Burger resigned in 1986; Rehnquist served until his death in 2005. He began as an associate justice in 1971. A definite conservative trend existed under Rehnquist that may be called political after its handling of Bush v. Gore , a case to determine the winner of the 2000 presidential election. The court’s conservative block cast aside its federalism label, decided the winner, and admonished that the decision had no precedent and was a one-time event. Current Chief Justice John Roberts was nominated by George W. Bush in 2005. Roberts was a Supreme Court law clerk, and argued 39 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Cotter believes the jury is still out on Roberts and cites his actions in being a conciliator who gets things done. On the other hand, Cotter cites some past writings of Roberts that may indicate the opposite in segregation and affirmative action cases. Daniel J. Cotter has written a com- pletely compelling book that has some- thing on every page to hold the reader’s interest in law, history, politics, and even some gossip.
REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS!
“The Chief Justices” A Supreme Court Docent Gives a Look Inside
supreme supremes, grab a copy of CBA past president Dan Cotter’s engaging his- tory of the Chief Justices. Cotter has had a long fascination with the U.S. Supreme Court and has penned a tremendously interesting book on the Chief Justices. In law school, he quickly learned from his professors that judges decided cases for the reasons stated in written opinions. But usually there were no details about the judges ― where they were from, their backgrounds, or what societal factors may have influenced their opin- ions. Cotter’s intellectual curiosity always pointed him in the direction of “connect- ing the dots.” Here, he does just that in an interesting and compelling manner. Cotter gives the reader background on the chiefs that today might be fodder for TMZ. For example, the first Chief Justice, John Jay, married Sarah Livingston when she was 16. And John Marshall served in the Continental Army at Valley Forge. Marshall also married a 16-year-old, Mary Willis Amber “Polly” Marshall. Polly’s mother had been courted by Thomas Jef- ferson and may have been part of the reason Marshall and Jefferson hated each other. John Marshall and Polly had 10 children. The book begins with 17 short synopses of each chief – a warm up of what is to come. You will find that (no surprise) each had political connections. First is John Jay, who grew up in a wealthy family in Rye, NY. His mother was daughter of a two termmayor of New York City. Jay moved through the political ranks and was recommended for Chief Justice by George Washington in 1789. During Jay’s tenure four cases were decided, two of which were quite important. The first case established that citizens could sue each
The Chief Justices By Daniel A. Cotter, Twelve Tables Press, 2019
Review by E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County So you think you know something about history? Here is a little quiz: who were Ellsworth, Rutledge, Taney, Waite, and Roberts? Right! These individuals all served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. To find out about these and the other Judge E. Kenneth Wright Jr. is the presiding judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Municipal Department First District and is a member of the CBA Record Editorial Board.
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